Photography in the early 1860’s was still in its infancy, barely 20 years old, this form of media was very difficult to work with while in a studio much less on a battle field. This form of media was still so new the Civil War is considered to be the first war to be documented with photos as well as newsprint.
At the beginning of the Civil War Mathew Brady was a very successful photographer even though he was suffering from diminished eyesight and rarely took photo’s himself. He had a well-trained staff, most of these men would soon become famous photographers who would travel the country to take photos of the ravages of the war.
He developed the methods of taking photographs in the field as well. Quite the feat considering how dangerous the chemicals used were during this era and the fact all the solutions had be mixed by hand as there was no such thing as pre-mixed or ready made anything in this era. One of the major benefits of the photography being taken during this time is that the images were captured on flattened pieces of Tin, referred to as tin type photography. Mr. Brady was so successful and famous he not only became the official Union Army Photographer, both sides would enlist him to take photos of their generals and presidents.
President Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis sat for Mathew Brady for their official photographs as did both General Lee and General Grant.